Assessment of heavy metal and bacterial pollution in coastal aquifers from SIPCOT industrial zones, Gulf of Mannar, South Coast of Tamil Nadu, India
Heavy metals and microbiological contamination were investigated in groundwater in the industrial and coastal city of Thoothukudi. The main sources of drinking water in this area are water bores which are dug up to the depth of 10-50 m in almost every house. A number of chemical and pharmaceutical industries have been established since past three decades. Effluents from these industries are reportedly being directly discharged onto surrounding land, irrigation fields and surface water bodies forming point and non-point sources of contamination for groundwater in the study area. The study consists of the determination of physico-chemical properties, trace metals, heavy metals and microbiological quality of drinking water. Heavy metals were analysed using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry and compared with the (WHO in Guidelines for drinking water quality, 2004) standards. The organic contamination was detected in terms of most probable number (MPN) test in order to find out faecal coliforms that were identified through biochemical tests. A comparison of the results of groundwater samples with WHO guidelines reveals that most of the groundwater samples are heavily contaminated with heavy metals like arsenic, selenium, lead, boron, aluminium, iron and vanadium. The selenium level was higher than 0.01 mg/l in 82 % of the study area and the arsenic concentration exceeded 0.01 mg/l in 42 % of the area. The results reveal that heavy metal contamination in the area is mainly due to the discharge of effluents from copper industries, alkali chemical industry, fertiliser industry, thermal power plant and sea food industries. The results showed that there are pollutions for the groundwater, and the total Coliform means values ranged from 0.6-145 MPN ml-1, faecal Coliform ranged from 2.2-143 MPN ml-1, Escherichia coli ranged from 0.9 to 40 MPN ml-1 and faecal streptococci ranged from 10-9.20 × 102 CFU ml-1. The coastal regions are highly contaminated with total coliform bacteria, faecal coliform bacteria and E. coli. This might be due to the mixing of sewage from Thoothukudi town through the Buckle channel and fishing activity.